Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Minister, Kondwani Nankhumwa, has expressed gratitude to Malawi’s development partners, through the Donor Committee on Agriculture and Food Security (DCAFS), CSOs and “all partners” for their valuable financial and technical support towards development of the agriculture sector.
“We look forward to continued unity of purpose in our efforts to drive the agriculture transformation agenda,” he said when he officially opened the 2018/19 Annual Agriculture Joint Sector Review (JRS) meeting at Capital Hotel in Lilongwe on Friday, January 31, 2020.
The theme of the JRS is “Strengthening Accountability of NAIP Implementation for sustainable agricultural transformation”.
Nankhumwa noted that the 2017/18 JSR meeting laid the foundation for tracking progress of the National Agricultural Investment Plan (NAIP). He said players in the sector face a litmus test in their collective resolve towards the agriculture transformation agenda.
“This JSR is an opportunity for us to assess the performance and results of the agriculture sector in relation to the foundations that we set in the NAIP and National Agriculture Policy (NAP) frameworks. This should not be one of those traditional gatherings to fulfil both national and international commitments but a platform to challenge ourselves and re-look at our approaches towards improving the agriculture sector.
“We all know the central role that the agriculture sector plays in the economy of the country. We are at the centre of scrutiny because we hold the key to almost all sectors. That is why it is important to keep in mind that we are here to make things happen,” said Nankhumwa.
Briefly analyzing the 2018/19 season, the minister said it has been “a mixed bag”.
“We registered an increase in maize production from a previous bad year (2017/18) and we did not expect many problems in 2019/2020 consumption year.
“However, as we have already seen, things have not turned out the way we had hoped. This is a wake-up call for all of us not to take everything for granted. We have registered increased cases of food insecurity across the country. The 2019/2020 food insecurity has been a big lesson to all of us to revisit our approach towards ensuring a food secure Malawi,” he said.
He said his ministry has moved swiftly to address the food insecurity problems through both short term and long term measures, which include procurement of maize flour and upfront tendering of maize procurement.
“We are, therefore, guaranteed of maize stocks within the control of government and this problem will not be there next season,” pledged the minister.
Nankhumwa then noted there is increasing occurrence of the climatic shocks manifested through extreme weather events and increasing incidences of pest and disease outbreaks.
“Climate change is now here to stay, robust and effective adaptation approaches to climate change remains the only guaranteed way to go. I am, therefore, keen to see how we streamline our approaches in the sector to ensure resilience of agricultural systems and livelihoods. Our investments will not yield anything if we cannot hedge them against these disasters.
“We have already seen how devastating floods, droughts, fall armyworm have compromised our crop production for a good number of years now.
“Recently, there have been reports of downy mildew disease in the southern part of Malawi. All these developments challenge us to be more proactive and result oriented,” he said.
High-profiled delegates at the meeting include DCAFS Chair, Irish Ambassador, Gerry Cunningham, Secretary for Agriculture Irrigation and Water Development, Gray Nyandule-Phiri, National Coordinator of the Civil Society Agricultural Network (Cisanet), Pamela Kuwali and CEO for NASFAM, Dr. Betty Chinyamunyamu, among others.
Cunningham acknowledged government’s efforts to improve food security. He encouraged government to continually improve the agriculture investment landscape to attract more private sector participation.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :